Council advances several projects

Oct 29, 2020

Credit City of Homer

The members of the Homer City Council had a long day on Monday, with work sessions starting at 4 p.m., and not adjourning their regular meeting until after 10. In addition to the previously reported changes to fiscal year timing and finalizing more economic recovery programs, the council also moved ahead on several other items.
One was to authorize the purchase of a plot of land near Bishop’s Beach Park and the Beluga Slough Trail which is on the market. Councilmember Joey Evenson expressed caution about losing out on the land altogether if the council sets a cap on how much the city manager can spend, but Councilmember Heath Smith cleared up the issue.
“I think it's listed at $35,000. So that's what they're asking for it. And so, it's not going to exceed that. And I think with our discussion, there's going to be a good faith effort made to make a negotiation, to get it for less than that,” Smith said “So up to and not to exceed already addresses, what they've determined as the selling price.”
Purchasing the 5,600-square-foot lot had support, not just from the council. Rika Mouw was very enthusiastic about the purchase.
“As a resident of the city, I just want to give my 1,000 percent support in this purchase. The extension of the parkland that the city already has at Bishop's Beach is such a natural. And I think there are plans to place a wayfinding sculpture in that area. And it's just such an important area for people to gather from the boardwalk, the parking lot. It's just an area that the public good far outweighs any other use of that land. And if it were developed, it would be a travesty in that area,” Mouw said. “So, thanks for considering it. I support it a thousand percent and I hope you give a two thumbs up each of you. Thank you.”
The land is currently assessed at $17,400 by the Kenai Peninsula Borough. It was as high as $44,900 as recently as 2011.
The city council also introduced a $90,000 expenditure from the Ocean Drive Loop seawall account to perform needed repair work. In addition, it authorized the city manager to seek a contractor to do the rehabilitation work on the structure.
The council also passed an ordinance tying new requests for water and sewer together for the first time. Mayor Castner approved.
“You know, when you're looking at water and sewer, water and sewer, you don't want to do them except kind of in parallel things. When we're expanding systems, we should be expanding both systems,” Castner said. “There's a completely different analysis if you're extending one and not the other. So I think it's sound public policy also.”
And though it took two ballots and consultation with the city attorney, Rachel Lord was elected “mayor pro tem” by her colleagues, in order to fill in for Mayor Castner in any absence. It’s her second term.